Early beginnings...

Etgar Keret, author of book titled “Fly Already”, explains how his family was responsible for making him a writer

September 05, 2019 03:43 pm | Updated 03:43 pm IST

He brings a charming mix of humour and the tragic in all his expressions. His latest book titled “Fly Already” is a collection of short stories. His name is Etgar Keret.

He wrote his first story when he was doing the compulsory military training.

When he found himself sitting, “…next to computers in a cold basement and more or less always alone for long shifts…” It was a page long. He needed someone to read it. He had to go to his brother’s house to request him to read his story.

The brother came down with his dog to read the story. Keret describes thereafter how the dog was excited to be out at that time in the morning and how he was being practically pulled by his brother whom he dared not disturb because, “…he was reading my story. Then he stopped, turned back and with tears in his eyes hugged me and told me it was a great story.”

Even as Keret was registering the compliment, he asked him if he had a copy of the story. Keret said, “Sure,” and the brother proceeded to pick up dog poop with that paper. “At that moment I realised I wanted to be a writer. I also thought my brother was telling me something when he was using my paper to pick up dog poop…that the story was not in the paper it was in me. It was in me, waiting to spill out.”

Whorehouse tales

Keret says, “When people ask you who influenced you as a writer, you pick a name and in my case Kafka…but that is an easy answer. What made me a writer was my family... My first meeting with stories was the bed time stories my parents told me. My parents, each of them, spoke six languages and the house was full of books, but there were no children’s books. That was because my mother’s sweetest memories were of her parents telling her bed time stories in the ghetto, where there were no books so they would make stories, a new one each day. And for her this was their way of showing their love and she was always very attentive because she felt this story was being told only to her and would be told only once and so if she was not attentive it would be lost. She could have bought us books but for her that was equivalent to buying pizza like a lazy parent. A good parent prepares a new story for each day. My father would not know how to tell stories, it was more like a documentary…” Most of his stories were located in a whorehouse. Later when Keret grew up to ask him why he told a child such stories the father replied that he could not tell him stories on hiding for 600 days in a hole without being able to stretch or of how his sister was caught by the Nazis…” So stories of the whorehouse was as pleasant as he could get.

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